95 acres of Wetlands and Hull’s Trace now in Preservation Agreement
By Dean Cousino
Monroe News staff reporter
Monroe Evening News
Posted Jun 28, 2017 at 12:00 PM
The public-private partnership in Brownstown Township is meant to help tell the story of the War of 1812 and Michigan’s early history.
BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP — Federal, state and local officials are hailing a public-private partnership to preserve a corduroy road dating back to the War of 1812 and 95 acres of coastal wetlands at the mouth of the Huron River here.
At a press conference Monday held at the Brownstown Event Center, authorities praised U.S. Silica for its plan to donate 95 acres of highquality coastal wetlands to the U.S. National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service for inclusion in the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The site along the lower Huron River in southern Wayne County includes two acres off W. Jefferson Ave. called “Hull’s Trace” that the River Raisin National Battlefield Park aims to preserve and protect so it can interpret the history of the Battles of the River Raisin and their aftermath.
Hull’s Trace contains a quarter-mile-long remnant of a corduroy (log) military road built by more than 2,300 U.S. troops to supply food, weapons and other goods to the Michigan Territory during the war. The road was a critical supply route that was traveled by at least 13 Native American nations and U.S., British and French settlers.
Cooperation key to partnership
Chris Coppens, plant manager for the Silica quarry for the past 4½ years, said cooperation was the key to reaching the joint management agreement.
“Today we are preserving history and protecting our environment so that future generations can continue to learn about and enjoy them,” Coppens told about 75 people at the event center, including representatives from Berlin Township and the City of Monroe. “It’s a great public-private partnership that should serve as an example of how we get things done not only Downriver, not just in Michigan, but how we get things done in this world. When we think of anything truly great — preserving wildlife habitats for future generations, creating roads (in the 1800s or today) or sending astronauts to the moon or Mars, it’s always done with great, grand cooperation.”
He noted when he kayaked the Huron River with his 9-year-old son, they had a guide who showed them the logs from Hull’s Trace that had been placed there over 200 years ago.
“Can you imagine the cooperation those soldiers had to have when building it? The painstaking work it took to place those logs along that road in a swampy area?” he asked.
He also pointed to the hard work that Fish and Wildlife Service put into tagging and tracking eagles and the cooperation that went into building the “Ticket-to-Float” Youth Kayak Explorer program along the river that Silica started. During the past three years, 3,600 inner-city youths in the Detroit area have enjoyed field trips to the corduroy road and learned about water quality, the War of 1812, wildlife and plant conservation and culture of the region at the turn of the 19th Century, said Jeff Griffith, one of the organizers for the Youth Connection that runs the program.
Logs can tell history of region
Scott Bentley, superintendent of the battlefield park in Monroe, paid tribute to Silica while also recalling the history of the war and 200 years of European expansion in North America that culminated in a multinational war with the epicenter in Southeast Michigan.
“In the Great Lakes, it was a war over control of the vast natural resources and lands,” Bentley told the throng. “In 2006, under leadership of Congressman John D. Dingell and many community leaders, the international importance of remembering the untold history of Southeast Michigan” drew Congress’ attention. The logs placed along Hull’s Trace and preserved by being under water represent “events that shaped who we are today.
“We are grateful that U.S. Silica is committed to preserving this special place in partnership with the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service. Together with our friends in Canada, Native Nations and local communities, because of Silica we are now able to remember the events of the past and inspire future generations.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Trenton, and her husband, former longtime Congressman John D. Dingell, both said that preserving and protecting Michigan’s heritage and natural beauty should be a priority for everyone.
“The public-private partnership we celebrate today is a reflection of our shared commitment to preserving both our history and natural resources, ensuring that people are able to enjoy the outdoors and learn at the same time.”
The wetlands and kayaking tours will help “get kids outside” and “back to the outdoors to understand how precious our natural resources are.” She also referred to the visitor center under construction at the refuge as a “great place to bring people together and preserve what we call home.”
Refuge still a jewel in clean water efforts
John Dingell, one of the founders of the refuge and author of the Clean Water Act in Congress, said the refuge remains a “treasure for education and giving people something of value to enjoy for generations.” He said he was praying for leadership and wisdom in Washington, D.C., to make the national parks and refuge a great place and institution for all Americans.”
Both Barbara Warren, deputy supervisor for Brownstown, and state Rep. Darrin Camilleri, D-Brownstown Township, said the township was blessed to have the corduroy road and wetlands in their backyard.
“It’s awesome to have partnerships with all these entities and celebrate history and natural resources,” Warren said. “There are so many people who will benefit from this.
Rep. Camilleri said interpretive staff can “use our backyard to tell the history of what happened here.”
Story of Potawatomi’s removal from land told in new effort
By Danielle Portteus
Monroe News staff reporter
Monroe Evening News
Posted May 21, 2017 at 12:30 PM
In the early 1800s, a portion of Dundee was home to a Potawatomi Indian reservation.
Its role in Monroe County history may not be well known, but a recent partnership is hoping to highlight its significance to residents and visitors.
Recently, the River Raisin National Battlefield Park, the Old Mill Museum, the county, Dundee Township and the Village of Dundee partnered to highlight the history of three square miles of land that served as the Macon Indian Reservation.
“We agreed to help tell the story of the Macon Reserve,” said battlefield Supt. Scott Bentley. “There is a lot of history we are learning about the tribes and some of it has changed history. That’s why we continue to do our research.”
The Michigan Department of Transportation recently installed the new signs highlighting the location of the former reservation. The signs are along M-50 and on northbound and southbound US-23 near Dundee inviting visitors into the community.
A wayside exhibit was installed earlier this month outside the Old Mill Museum, 242 Toledo St.
West County Park Prairie Preserve, a 60-acre park off Rightmire Rd. owned by the county, was the home of the reserve where Potawatomi were forced to live after the Treaty of Detroit was signed in 1807. The treaty established the Macon Reserve where the River Macon falls into the River Raisin about 14 miles from the mouth of the River Raisin.
“People can stand on the reserve and see a profound part of history,” Mr. Bentley said.
The installation of the signs already has drummed up additional visitors to the Old Mill Museum, said museum Director Shirley Massingill.
“In January through March, we don’t have a ton of visitors but our numbers have more than doubled,” Mrs. Massingill said. “I was flabbergasted.”
The museum has artifacts and exhibits on the reservation.
“In the past year, we have had people coming from all over the United States,” Mrs. Massingill said. “People come in and have no idea about the history of this area.”
Now, visitors to the battlefield and the Old Mill are being directed to the Macon Reservation to learn more about its connection to the history of the area.
The tribes are deeply rooted in the history of the area.
tribe was original land owner
The Potawatomi, who along with the Chippewa and Ottawa were known as the Anishnaabek, were among the tribes that co-founded Detroit with the French in 1701.
From 1768 to 1794, the Potawatomi principal villages were along the Huron River near Ypsilanti and the River Raisin tributaries near current day Saline and Milan.
In 1785, Chief Askiby of the Potawatomi provided the first land grant on the south side of the River Raisin to Jacques Navarre and his brother, Francois Navarre. On June 3, 1785, an affidavit was drawn up in French at Detroit to confirm the transfer of ownership and the chiefs signed it.
“French Town was created by land grants from the Potawatomi,” Mr. Bentley said.
By 1816, Lewis Cass, governor of the Northwest Territories and an Indian agent, started the efforts to remove tribes from southeastern Michigan and the Potawatomi were forced into more than 30 land cessions in treaties from 1816 to 1833, Mr. Bentley said.
“That’s when the Trail of Death begins,” he said.
The Macon Reservation land also played a role in the eventual creation of what is now the University of Michigan, Mr. Bentley said.
Gov. Cass convinced the Potawatomi and other tribes at the Macon Reservation to donate a portion of their land to St. Anne’s Church and the College of Detroit, which later became the University of Michigan, and to trade another portion for federal land elsewhere.
On Sept. 29, 1817, a portion of the Macon Reserve was ceded in the Treaty of Fort Meigs. Then, in 1824, the university received title to the Macon land sections, which was swapped two years later for other land owned by the Catholic Church.
By September, 1827, the Macon Reserve was ceded to consolidate the dispersed bands of the Potawatomi in the Michigan Territory. The tribes were forced out of Monroe and Wayne counties once the Indiana Removal Act was signed in 1830.
During the summer of 1840, most of the southwestern Michigan Potawatomi were forcibly removed west of the Mississippi. Many avoided removal by going to Canada.
telling the story
“The Macon story needs to be told because it shows the initial struggle with the United States,” Mr. Bentley said. “It also tells the aftermath of removal. This is ground zero for telling that story and the ultimate removal of the tribes.”
The county has additional plans for the park, too, said Annamarie Osment, operations coordinator for Monroe County.
“We plan to develop trails and get new signage,” she said.
To this day, many residents don’t know the significance
“People have no idea they are living on the Macon Reserve,” said Dorothy (Meg) Heinlen, retired educator and a founder of the Old Mill Museum.
Bringing attention to the reserve was just another step in the battlefield’s overall plan to tie in locations in and around Monroe County that relate to the War of 1812, Mr. Bentley said.
“The Macon Reservation is our newest of our three major sites (Hull’s Trace and the battlefield park are the others),” he said. “We will continue to do what we can do incorporate more of the areas of significance.”
Last updated: October 2, 2017